Laura MW Kelly
Author's Note: I am an environmental scientist in Fairbanks, Alaska and spend most of my time writing technical papers. I've always had scraps creative writing piled somewhere; I'm not organized enough to write it all in one place to begin with, so ruled pages of one notebook are torn out and stuffed in between pages of another. This piece isn't one of those though - it's new, a reflection on a lingering moment I was in. Even so, I suspect the first drafts will someday find space between pages of other drafts.
Blueberries is a season here. It comes as reliably as Summer and Autumn. Fall descends from the north and we follow it to the southern coast, riding the wave of berries and color and catching raindrops on our brimmed hats. About the time that first wild blueberry meets my lips is the time I notice the dampened hues of green. No, leaves have not turned. Their sawtooth edges are tired. Beneath the surviving grasses a bed of yellowed undergrowth streaks through. The roses are far past their bloom but their bitter hips sway as I push past their exposed stalks. The first blueberry is always a surprise. It is one of those never-aging delights. I reach into the low bush, wondering if it is too soon - the berry still hard, un-ripened and unpalatable. I reach into the low bush, wondering if I am too late - I missed Blueberries altogether and what’s left mashes between my fingers, done. But the first blueberry is always right. Some days, through the gift of Blueberry rains, sun breaks and you should see the way souls grow on those days: reaching skyward, uplifted. I remember those sun-dappled Blueberry days by the smell of fresh earth. The dampness of the shrubs and soil cools the low air, but the sun crisps my neck as I stoop for one more taste. Maybe Blueberries is best remembered by the flavors. Do you eat the fruits one-by-one or by the handful? Do you add sugar for jelly and pie? Or do you, each morning, add the smallest tart bites to breakfast grains? Do you eat them by the bowlful until the fresh harvest is spent? Or do you save them away, frozen and packed, as a reminder of Blueberry-days past? Do you savor each berry until the last? Here at the edge of the country change is hyperbole. All change is big change - a melodrama in its own right. So when Blueberries come and we notice the midnight sun near the horizon, we chase it down, reaching for one last bite.
©2022 Laura MW Kelly
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